Speaking of memories I’ve decided not to let a good thing go to waste. Okay so I will probably never like red apples because of dear old papa but I still like the smell of English Lavender and I’m certainly not going to let him ruin the whole show.
After I broke up with a certain beau in San Francisco I couldn’t walk through North Beach for at least 2 years. But I loved North Beach! For a while the memories of spending time there with him were just too painful. It’s silly what we do with things we love when they are tainted with a sad memory.
In the last few years I’ve decided to take control and let a good thing stay good. Maybe I never liked red apples, who knows. Maybe its body wisdom telling me that there is too much sugar in a red apple! I prefer green apples anyway.
Recently I broke down and bought a bottle of body lotion called Samsara by Guerlain. For years I wore the perfume but at $200 a bottle (it had been a gift), I had to settle for the body lotion. Samsara was a scent I thought I could never smell again and then suddenly it began to take on new meaning to me. It stopped reminding me of a certain time and started reminding me…of me.
Music can be a more difficult hurdle when attempting to let your bruised ears hear it again. I can’t really listen to the band America without thinking of the dreadful 70’s and my parents divorce but in the right circumstance I could probably handle it. Like lets say if I am hearing it with a new person. If I listen to that band with my sister or brother we freak out because it produces Nam-like flashbacks of our dad. But if I listen to that same band with someone who finds them entertaining and has a happy memory associated with their songs, well then I will give it a shot. It’s the polite thing to do.
If I smell Linseed Oil I go nuts. Thats if I haven’t painted in a while. The smell of linseed oil has the same effect on me that a full moon does on a werewolf. (Yes there are too werewolves. Shut up.) I don’t go crazy but I have to paint almost immediately. It’s Pavlovian. I associate the smell with fond memories of learning how to oil paint.
Memories are so strange. Not everyone reacts the same way to a bad memory, some simply ignore them. And then there are the memories that can produce a panic attack and there is nothing that can be done except to let it ride, medicate or be locked up in a loony bin. If you are aware that a memory or a situation could produce that kind of reaction, then let the breathing begin. If it blind-sides you, let it ride, try to breathe, medicate or have someone lock you up.
I haven’t had a panic attack in a very long time but sometimes they can’t always be avoided. Jury Duty can send me into the void and not just because of how tedious it is. It reminds me of 2 years of my life being stolen by stupidheads bent on kidnapping a child I was caring for. Picking me for a jury on an assault case just isn’t going to work, if I am suddenly reminded of being held at gun point, tied up, etc. But I know that certain things can trigger that response so I am cautious and pay attention to my body when the mind starts to run and hide.
I’ve tried like hell to get a grip on that memory but it can be very strong and stubborn at times. Not being able to listen to Stairway To Heaven can be rough too. Nothing really bad comes to mind other than the fact that it was so overplayed I just got tired of it. That and every teenage girl who played the guitar liked to serenade a party with it. It sends shivers up my spine.
We have to allow our memories to change with us or they can dictate how we live our lives now and that is not always a good thing. The Buddhists like to say that we are not our thoughts but sometimes we sure think we are. Oooh it’s so confusing.
You may have a memory of me that is not totally accurate and vice versa. It can be inaccurate because you are not the same person you were when we interacted, even if it was only 5 hours ago. 5 hours or 20 years, we have changed. It’s all perspective and only we can change that perspective.
I can hear a few of you saying “No I can’t change my perspective!.” Stubborn donkey. Yes you can. There are many ways to see the past, present and future. Get out of the security of your history, your dark cave of reminiscences. If you’ve had a few cocktails you can sing A Horse With No Name and be on the floor in hysterics…if you allow it.
Nothing is funnier than hearing my brother’s rendition. There is no traumatic time travel anymore, just pure, goofy, insanity.
- Smell, Memory and Perfume (katneubrand.wordpress.com)
- Memories of the Past (frawgsdill.wordpress.com)
- John Tropea: Transience Memory (johntropea.tumblr.com)
- What are you good at remembering? (italiatina.wordpress.com)
- All Memory is Not Created Equal–Positive Memory Seepage (psychologytoday.com)
I JUST LOVE THIS ESSAY. WONDERFUL. THE SMELL OF OLD PRIESTS FREAK ME OUT. NO KIDDING. YES WALTER, THEY HAVE A SMELL.
LOL they sure do Ricardo!! Wow don’t get me started on Catholic school memories!
Ah, this post is so true. SO true. There are some times and some sensations that will only trigger the bad memories, and there are some within that which I am content to simply let be “bad.” Others, however, like the bridge over Beijing’s 2nd ring road, I want to reclaim, as hard as it may be. Still others, like the coffee shop near that same spot, have been gone for years already, and I do take some comfort in that.
Thanks for this post. I just found it as a pingback, but I needed to read it, I think.
And, green apples + cheese will always be where it’s at! 🙂
There are places I stopped going to for (irrational, delusional) fear of the memory. We give our memories that power. But like you said, some will just have to stay that way while others can become a new, happier memory.
Nothing like green apple & cheese! Red apple & cheese? No thank you.
A wise person told me once “Don’t believe everything you think”
Patrick Llerena said:
After 15 years of working with wine, I am acutely aware of the importance of smell and its dominance over taste and sight. Wine descriptors – especially the seemingly cheesy ones that I write every day – are all based on smell and smell’s connection to memory. If I find a wine that smells like ripe damson plums or meyers lemon or cigar box or vaseline or wet dog or nail polish…they are all there because I link those smells to specific memories and elements in the wine remind me of those.
Just like the smell of scotch transports me to the south of France. Wine tasting takes memory to a whole new universe. Where can I read your memories/reviews of wine?